"Whoever you want to be, you can be,
my mother said, year in and out, her vow
a litany of doctor-lawyer-Indian chief.
She was wrong to think only of bright deeds
and lives, of limelight, accolades, fattened days.
For when I see the leper on the road, misshapen,
scabrous, wheeling his gnarled body dark with pain,
I know my own easy health, my unclever luck
for gain are even more ephemeral than self.
Reincarnate, I become what’s most loath to me:
palsied whore, brutish pimp, murderer, pariah.
Limitless the roles I could assume, mother,
when my back is spun like a turnstile of fate,
when the appalling strangers I meet are myself.
- Karma by Maurya Simon"